What would the summer holidays be without summer hits, those songs that loop on the radio, that we sing at the top of our lungs and that make us dance until the end of the night? Over the next few weeks, The duty ” takes you on a musical and temporal journey to (re)discover these hits who marked our summers with the series “Inside a tube”.
Despacito by Luis Fonsi I Gotta Feeling Black Eyed Peas or even hoodie of Bleu Jeans Bleu, we all still have in mind these songs which have climbed to the top of the rankings of music radio stations in recent summers and which replay tirelessly as soon as the first summer heats appear. But who chooses the musical titles that will form the soundtrack of our holidays? And what determines that a song will be THE hit of the summer? Actors from the environment explain everything to us.
“It is certain that the radios are in the front line and have a great power over the training of hits of our summers”, immediately indicates Jean-Pascal Lemelin, musical director of the Énergie and Rouge FM stations.
He explains that each radio station has its music committee which, throughout the year, meets weekly to listen to new songs and select those that are most likely to interest listeners, depending, of course, on the DNA of each station. When May arrives, however, it’s time to adopt a strategy adapted to the summer period and to choose the titles which will not only please the listeners, but above all become the hits of their entire summer. “We are going to choose what, to our ears in any case, seems to us a hit potential. Sometimes we hit the bull’s eye, sometimes we’re wrong. »
Promotion agents – who make the link between independent artists or record companies and radio stations – also have a big role to play in the equation, underlines Jean-Pascal Lemelin. “They’re the ones who provide us with the pool of new stuff to listen to. They also point us to the catchy title of a new album, for example. »
Listeners also have a say in the creation of these summer hits. “After our selection, when we start pushing certain songs on the air, listeners will guide us. They often send us emails or [textos] to ask us to play this or that song. It allows us to see trends we didn’t see coming, or to confirm that our choices were the right ones. »
The recipe for success
The stakeholders interviewed all agree: there is no magic recipe for creating THE success of the summer. On the other hand, there are trends that come back every year.
Basically, it takes a catchy melody, rhythm and simple lyrics. “People have to remember the song, have it stick in their minds, want to listen to it again and again without ever getting sick of it. They also need to be able to hum it, even sing it by heart. And then, it takes rhythm, we like that, the rhythm, when it makes you want to move your shoulders, to dance, ”specifies the promotion agent Nathalie Corbeil.
Examples ? pink ink by Corneille or About Damn Time by Lizzo, which are among the most played on radio stations this week. “There’s a lot of rhythm, it’s moving, it’s thefun, we are almost back to disco. You just want to stop everything and just dance when you listen to this, ”notes Nathalie Corbeil.
A song is even more likely to smash listening records if it has “a little Latin side”, says Jean-Pascal Lemelin. “In Quebec, it’s something that works a lot, we see it year after year in our rankings. […] These sounds represent the sun, the heat, the lightness, the holidays… That’s what we’re looking for in a hit of summer. »
People have to remember the song, it has to stay in their head, they have to want to listen to it again and again without ever getting sick of it. They also need to be able to hum it, even sing it by heart. And then, it takes rhythm, we like that, the rhythm, when it makes you want to move your shoulders, to dance.
Despacito – which played on repeat in the summer of 2017 and which continues to have its place in the programming – is certainly the most telling example. The song by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee was a huge success here, but also around the world. The music video now has over 7.9 billion views on YouTube, making it the second most viewed in history.
Jean-Pascal Lemelin gives other more recent examples of titles having these sounds specific to hot countries and which are currently popular on the radio, including Trumpet by Willy William or Bam Bam by Camila Cabello and Ed Sheeran.
“What is interesting with these two songs, he adds, is that we see that there is also a whole question of timing. Trumpet came out in February this year, but strategically we didn’t want to play it when it was -20 degrees here, we waited for it to be warmer. Same for Bam Bam, released at the end of March. So people aren’t sick of listening to them yet, and it fits better with their summer. »
Each summer, a few songs by French-speaking artists, “with good local sounds”, also always manage to stand out, notes the musical director. Songs by already popular artists like Jean Leloup or Ariane Moffatt are thus often found in hits of summer. let’s think about 1990 (summer 1991) and I lost my baby (summer 1997) from the first, to I want everything (summer 2008) and Upright (summer 2015) of the second.
But more and more often, to everyone’s surprise, some Quebec artists are now making themselves known to the general public thanks to a song that is a hit during the summer.
Jean-Pascal Lemelin takes the example of VScotton wool, by Bleu Jeans Bleu, which worked like never before in the summer of 2019. “When it came out, we added it to our programming on Énergie, which is more rock, more humorous, we thought it would work good. But we didn’t think the song would be so successful. We heard it so everywhere that we also started playing it on Rouge towards the end of the summer, even if it’s really not this style that is usually played on the station. »
Another example : Tokebakicitte of Jérôme 50. “We felt that it would be a hit last summer on Énergie, but we didn’t expect it to be that bad. Once again, we added her to Rouge because it worked so well in all markets, whereas she was an almost unknown artist before that. »
“These are often very Quebec songs, with our own accent, our own vocabulary,” says the musical director. It’s very unifying, like songs, it appeals to people a lot. »
To your earworms!
We would like to know your favorite summer success, the one that marked you forever, and the reasons that made it your “best”. We’ll compile your answers into a list of the most popular hits and publish some of the testimonials that support those choices. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.